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PHR Welcomes President Obama’s Call to Close Guantánamo, Points to Need for Concrete Steps and Timeline

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Right (PHR) today welcomed President Obama’s remarks about the need to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center, and hopes the administration will take immediate and concrete steps to ensure all detainees are transferred or released promptly.

“We welcome the president’s call to close the Guantánamo facility, and hope today’s announcement about appointing officials to oversee the closing and a commitment to release some detainees to Yemen bring us a step closer to righting a wrong,” said Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director. “While we are pleased the president is addressing the issue, there remains a great need to finally move from words to action, and establish a timeline for how every detainee will either be safely released or charged and tried fairly. The ongoing hunger strike at Guantánamo exemplifies the kind of desperation that ensues when the government commits human rights abuses and resorts to indefinite detention, with no end in sight.”

While President Obama did not specifically address the Senate Select Committee Intelligence report in his speech, PHR stressed the need for information about the government’s torture program to be released to the public.

“As a country, we cannot move forward without facing the deplorable use of torture, which harms our reputation and conflicts with our American values,” McKay said. “In order to ensure accountability and transparency, the White House must release the Senate Select Committee Intelligence Report on torture. Only then can we ensure the same mistakes are not repeated, and we can begin to move beyond this dark period of widespread human rights violations.”

The president’s remarks on Guantánamo this afternoon came during a wide-ranging speech on counter-terrorism policy – the first major speech on the topic in his second term – at National Defense University in Washington, DC.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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